Broccoli versus Chocolate: Study Shows Shoppers Favor (and Savor) Junk

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Pretend for a moment that you’re in a store trudging down the aisles of your favorite super market. You buy according to need, and, more importantly, make sense fiscally for your budget. I mean, your pockets aren’t exactly bursting with the green stuff (and I mean dollars, not Kleenex during the cold season) in this economy.

So what if those healthful foods you’re shopping for in the produce aisle suddenly become cheaper and those sugary items take a price hike? Do you buy more of the vegetables and fruits? Do a salty jig in front of the prime rib and purchase another pound with the savings? Save up for a new pair of running shoes?

According to a recent study, you take the savings and…

…you buy more junk food. Len Epstein, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Buffalo said, “When you put it all together, their shopping baskets didn’t have improved nutrition.” In other words, buggies still contained the same amount of “fats and carbohydrates” as they would have otherwise.

The study is a practice in consumer manipulation, a test of the ‘sin’ tax, and a ‘mouse meets cheese’ reward on the cellular fiscal level. And it didn’t work.

When it comes down to it, the government can place a ‘sin tax’ on foods, but can they lead the horses–or the consumers– to eat more healthfully? There’s an addiction to junk foods in this country, and so rose the insulin levels and brain chemicals out of whack everywhere, thanks in no small part to the food pyramid and companies that slake the appetite with foods of little nutritional value.

According to Julia Ross (author of The Diet Cure), we’re a nation of malnourished people with more access to choices than we’ve ever had, and yet we pop more pills– and waistbands– than we ever have before.

It’s hard to imagine that with the influx or cheaper, organic foods to the supermarkets, USDA recommendations and studies that our brains and bodies are still starving.

So what’s the answer? Making people pay more for junk? Making healthy foods cheaper? Well, studies already show that probably isn’t going to work. Making staples cheaper just left more for the candy and chips aisle.

And while some schools force kids to choose fruits for snacks in lieu of other food items, you can’t just trust the USDA to subsidize food choices in the classroom or the dining room without wondering what’s in it for the food lobbies.

We’ve already traveled that path, bought the t-shirt, and spilled the 100% natural grape juice and fortified morning chocopuffles down the front.

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